The Algarve is famous for its idyllic beaches, boasting approximately 125 miles of dramatic coastline with magnificent golden sandy beaches and tiny rugged coves. Simply look for the sign ‘Praia’, which means ‘beach’ in Portuguese.
There are more than 150 beaches to choose from and they are generally unpolluted and clean, with 88 receiving the Blue Flag award in 2016. Praia do Carvoeiro was named European Best Beach 2018 by online portal European Best Destinations, one of the most visited websites dedicated to tourism in Europe.
Rocky outcrops, another famous feature of the Algarve coastline, create a scenic backdrop to many beaches and charming villages perch on cliff tops overlooking picturesque bays.
Most beaches feature at least one bar or restaurant, usually an ideal setting to sample the excellent seafood, and all are available to the public without charge although small fees may be incurred for the use of sun beds and parasols. Larger beaches often have a wide range of water sports activities and other attractions.
For the more active holidaymaker, there are many walkways, tracks, paths and trails that can be followed, often taking in wonderful ocean views. One of the most popular is the Praia Grande walk, which takes approximately 2 hours, but the rewards are well worth the effort. There is an abundance of bird life, including regular sightings of flamingos and the walk incorporates saltmarsh wetland, coastal lagoon and pine forest.
We’ve picked out 5 of our favourite beaches but there are so many beautiful beaches in the Algarve that it’s hard to choose between them and your preference will be influenced by whether you’re looking for a popular spot with activities or a quiet beach offering a retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Either way, you’re sure to find your piece of paradise on holiday in the Algarve.
Praia do Carvoeiro
This small but beautiful beach features on many picture postcards. Surrounded by the village and high rock formations on both sides, the white terraced houses and colourful fishing boats provide a picturesque backdrop to the sapphire-coloured sea and golden sand. There are plenty of amenities and, being a Blue Flag beach, a seasonal lifeguard service as well as good accessibility features.
Praia Ilha da Tavira
Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island) is near to the town of Tavira. A few minutes’ boat trip will take visitors from the jetty of Tavira, located just outside the town, to this attractive white sandy beach, which is widely considered to be one of the best in the Algarve. The beach stretches for about 12km and may be a little crowded on arrival but as you walk along the sand, it becomes more and more deserted.
Praia dos Tres Irmaos and Praia de Alvor
A restaurant serves as a border between Praia de Alvor on the west and Praia dos Tres Irmaos to the east but it is, in effect, one long beach with plenty of facilities and easy access. The ‘Three Brothers’ rock formations create secluded beaches on the eastern side. The sand feels soft underfoot and relaxation is easy, listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks. There are no cliffs so there is no natural shade but it is a very popular beach for windsurfers, being very exposed to the elements.
Praia da Bordeira
This vast and beautiful beach is located on the West side of the Algarve and is easy to get to by travelling north from Vila do Bispo. It is mostly sandy, not rocky as some pictures suggest and has a small river running into the sea at one side, which is especially enjoyed by children. The beach is too long to ever become crowded and is virtually deserted out of season. It can be a little windy, which is perfect for surfers, but the sand dunes offer shelter if needed.
Praia da Falesia
A quiet, non-commercial beach accessed by more than 120 wooden steps leading down from the car park. The views from the cliff tops are stunning and the multi-coloured sandstone cliffs dramatic. There are no facilities so bring some water and something to eat, spread out a beach mat or towel and soak up the glorious sunshine and scenery in the peace and quiet.